Balancing People, Policies, and Resources in Rural Tibet

  • Geoff ChildsEmail author
  • Melvyn C. Goldstein
  • Puchung Wangdui
Part of the Human-Environment Interactions book series (HUEN, volume 1)


This chapter examines ways that household-level decisions about reproduction are shaped by available land resources, political discourse on population and impoverishment, and changing perceptions of children’s utility to long-term economic strategies. The research centers on three villages in Shigatse Prefecture of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region and is based on a combination of longitudinal demographic data gathered through surveys and in-depth interviews with parents about social, economic, and political factors that influenced their decisions to limit family size. The first part of the chapter discusses policy changes in the 1980s that dismantled Tibet’s commune system and gave families control over set amounts of arable land, and ensuing processes that led to a sharp reduction in per capita land holdings. The second part of the chapter discusses China’s birth control policy in terms of how it is rooted in a vision to create a modern society and how this policy applies in Tibet. The third part of the chapter documents the timing and magnitude of the recent fertility decline in rural Tibet and links it with (1) the reduction in per capita land holdings, (2) China’s birth control policy, and (3) the changing roles that children play in households’ long-term economic strategies. The concluding section discusses how human-environment interactions are one among several variables involved in the complex reproductive decision-making process in rural Tibet.


Birth Control Total Fertility Rate Land Tenure Fertility Decline Marital Fertility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoff Childs
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melvyn C. Goldstein
    • 2
  • Puchung Wangdui
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of AnthropologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.Tibet Academy of Social SciencesLhasaChina

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